Hardcore Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Erika Lopez

Punk. Today, many people associate this word with dark colors, ripped clothing, and loud music. However, this subculture is much more than that. It is a lifestyle, which arose in the mid-1970s in Australia, Great Britain, and the U.S. in response to decreased individual freedom during wartime.

Punk ideologies are often progressive and promote anarchy. “Punks” wanted to make strong statements through music and fashion by going against the status quo.

Punk fashion has remained relevant today and can be characterized as “Do-It-Yourself,” meaning that punks usually modify their store-bought clothing themselves. They often modify their clothes with safety pins, duct tape, razor blades, and bubble wrap. Punks believed in turning common household objects into art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest exhibit, “Punk: Chaos to Couture,” is proof that punk fashion is still popular. The exhibit opened on May 9th, 2013 and is scheduled to remain open until August 14th, 2013.

As someone with an interest in fashion, I was excited to visit this exhibit. It was a learning experience, since I was unfamiliar with punk fashion. Expecting everything to be ripped and messy, I was amazed by how beautiful some of the couture was.

When you first enter the exhibit, you are greeted by the music of the Sex Pistols playing loudly. Each room in the exhibit has a different theme. The first room is devoted to punk fashion’s roots in New York City and London from the 1970s.

Other rooms are dedicated to distinct styles within punk fashion such as DIY and graffiti. I loved looking at the unique outfits on each of the mannequins within these rooms. All of the designs in the exhibit are originals lent to the museum.

The designs range from the 1970s to present. Some of the designers featured in the exhibit include Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein, and Dolce and Gabbana.

My favorite punk-inspired ensemble consisted of a poofy Dolce and Gabbana gown that was splattered with colorful paints and an equally colorful, uncoordinated, wig.

Overall, I enjoyed the exhibit and found it fun and visually stimulating. However, more explanation behind the designs was needed. Many Met exhibits have small movie theaters where people can watch movies related to the exhibit to enhance their experience. It would have been better if this exhibit had something similar, so that people could learn more about the history behind the clothes on display through various mediums.

Despite this flaw, I enjoyed my visit. I highly recommend checking this exhibit out during the summer even if you think that you are not interested in fashion. Punk fashion is an important part of our country’s cultural history and deserves this recognition.

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